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GST-His purification: A Two-step Affinity Purification Protocol Yielding Full-length Purified Proteins

Published: October 29th, 2013



1Genome Stability Laboratory, Oncology Axis, Hôtel-Dieu de Québec
* These authors contributed equally

In the present protocol, we demonstrate a highly efficient and cost-effective small-scale protein purification method, which allows purification of recombinant proteins by uniquely combining a cleavable GST-tag and a small His-tag.

Key assays in enzymology for the biochemical characterization of proteins in vitro necessitate high concentrations of the purified protein of interest. Protein purification protocols should combine efficiency, simplicity and cost effectiveness1. Here, we describe the GST-His method as a new small-scale affinity purification system for recombinant proteins, based on a N-terminal Glutathione Sepharose Tag (GST)2,3 and a C-terminal 10xHis tag4, which are both fused to the protein of interest. The latter construct is used to generate baculoviruses, for infection of Sf9 infected cells for protein expression5. GST is a rather long tag (29 kDa) which serves to ensure purification efficiency. However, it might influence physiological properties of the protein. Hence, it is subsequently cleaved off the protein using the PreScission enzyme6. In order to ensure maximum purity and to remove the cleaved GST, we added a second affinity purification step based on the comparatively small His-Tag. Importantly, our technique is based on two different tags flanking the two ends of the protein, which is an efficient tool to remove degraded proteins and, therefore, enriches full-length proteins. The method presented here does not require an expensive instrumental setup, such as FPLC. Additionally, we incorporated MgCl2 and ATP washes to remove heat shock protein impurities and nuclease treatment to abolish contaminating nucleic acids. In summary, the combination of two different tags flanking the N- and the C-terminal and the capability to cleave off one of the tags, guaranties the recovery of a highly purified and full-length protein of interest.

The purification of recombinant proteins is crucial to address fundamental questions in biochemistry. Conventional ways of protein purification like ion exchange chromatography and size exclusion chromatography rely on physical properties of the target protein such as its isoelectric point and charge or size, respectively. The latter protein characteristics are shared by a variety of proteins, which increases considerably the chance of contaminating proteins in conventional protein purification strategies. This problem may be circumvented with the use of multiple purification columns, which is time consuming. At the same time, the latter chromatography methods demand ....

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1. Production of Recombinant Baculovirus

Baculoviruses are generated using the Bac-to-Bac Baculovirus Expression System of Invitrogen mainly in accordance with the manufacturer's protocol with only slight modifications:

  1. A modified pFastBac1 vector (Gibco, life) was created containing the GST and His-tags (Figure 2). The MultiCloning Site (MCS) of a pET-52b(+) vector (Novagen), containing a 10xHis-tag, was inserted into the MCS of a pFastBac1 vector to generate .......

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In order to illustrate the efficiency of the GST-His purification protocol, we purified Rec14, a S. pombe protein of 32.9 kDa. The Rec14 cDNA was cloned in our modified pFastBac1 vector allowing the additions of GST- and His-tags at the N- and C- termini, respectively (Figure 1A). Recombinant baculovirus were then prepared and used to infect SF9 infected cells for protein expression. The soluble cell lysates were incubated with GST beads and bound-proteins were eluted by cleaving the GST with Pr.......

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The GST-His purification protocol presented here is suitable for the purification of a broad range of sizes of recombinant proteins: We successfully purified LiRAD51 (41kDa), piBRCA2 (120kDa), PALB2 (130kDa), and an unstable high molecular weight protein of Leishmania infantum: LiBRCA2 (125kDa)6,9. Moreover, the proteins purified with this protocol were biochemically active6. The success of this method solely depends on the expression, solubility and stability of th.......

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We thank Anne-Marie Dion-Cote for discussions leading to the development of the method. J.K. and R.B. are FQNRT doctoral scholars, M.-M.G. is a Vanier CIHR scholar, and J.-Y.M. is a FRSQ senior researcher. This work was supported by funds from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to J-Y. M.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Name of the reagent Company Catalogue number Comments (optional)
E.Coli DH10Bac (competent) Invitrogen
Bac-to-Bac Baculovirus Expression System Invitrogen
Maxi Prep Kit Qiagen 12163 Solution I and II
Ultra Pure Bluo-Gal Gibco (Life) 15519028
IPTG Gibco (Life) 15529019
Sf9 infected cells ATCC CRL-1711
PreScission enzyme GE Healthcare 27084301
Grace's infected medium supplemented Gibco (Life) 11605-094
Fetal Bovine Serum characterized Hyclone SH30396.03
P/S (Penicillin-Streptomycin) Gibco (Life) 15070-063
Glutathione Sepharose resin GE bioscience 17075605
Protease inhibitor cocktail Roche 11873580001
Talon resin Clontech 635504
Imidazole BioShop 288324
Gentamicin Gibco (Life) 15710064
Polyclonal GST-antibody Production in house
Monoclonal 6X-His-antibody Clontech 631212
Dounce homogenizer (tight) Wheaton 357546
Sonicator (Fisher dismembrator) Fisher Model 150
Dialysis bag (50 mm) Fisher Scientific 2115217

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